I’ve made it no secret how I feel about my mother. I have a lot of latent and not-so-latent anger with her. She is a terrible mother, and always has been. And I think it’s momentous for me now to actually acknowledge this. I often spent a lot of time giving her the benefit of the doubt; and apologizing for her, and making excuses for her. I grew up somewhere along the way; and had to come to the hard realization that yes, she’s family, and yes, she’s my mother, but connection by genetics and blood are sometimes not enough of a reason to continue fighting for a relationship with someone who is damaging and toxic.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship at all; but at some point, the dam broke, the ability to internalize all my resentment and my words just went away—and I just started calling it as it was. And it was then that my mother stopped being intimidating to me, and actually she became wary of me.
It started after I moved to Oregon, after she pretty much ruined my wedding. It was a few of years ago when she had come to look at houses. She was staying with my aunt. Now just so you get a picture; my mother is a narcissist beyond measure. She has no sense of consideration or kindness unless it directly benefits her. She is always to the rescue, but mostly so she can be the amazing rescuer. She’s mean, and manipulative; and for some reason, she can never just love all of us, there always has to be a ‘Bad Ranger’ as well have dubbed it; one kid who just isn’t quite up to muster upon whom the blame for just about everything falls. She taught us everything we know, you see, and any successes we achieved are thanks to her. She created independent and intelligent daughters, yet how dare we go off and live our lives?… And whenever anything comes up, or anything happens; it is always about her. "You broke your leg? How could you do this to me?"
My father got very ill back in August—and has been slipping since. Just so you have an idea of the toxic, self-absorbed person she is, she has professed that my father got pneumonia, Parkinson’s and all his other afflictions simply to spite her. Seriously—she believes this. “He is doing it because he likes the attention… that a**hole is doing it on purpose because he wants to punish me and make me change his sh*tty diapers!” she exclaims to me on the phone in a voice so full of vitriol and bitterness, I am ashamed she is my mother. My own thoughts hearing this is, “who is this person? Who can be so horrible as to have ZERO empathy for someone who dying? Who can’t even get over herself long enough to at least allow my father to have some decency in his final days?” But growing up in their marriage, I know how unimportant my father was to her and how little regard she had for him at all. Mind you, daddy was no angel, but seeing how starkly inconsiderate and self-centered my mother is, through the eyes of an adult and a (occasionally) rational thinker, I know now how my father must have been made crazy by her vapid choices and her utter lack of consideration for anyone other than herself. I understand his anger, because I feel it too now. Of course, I choose not to resolve it in the way he did… I simply verbalize the truth. And so in part, I've finally earned the distinction of
My mother’s behaviour during that visit was reprehensible. And this was the final time I lost it, and I totally lost it. Before then, I’d had confrontations with her before where I actually managed to come out of it feeling somewhat victorious and leaving her slack-jawed and unable to utter her oh-so-important last word, but those were few and far between. This time, I laid it out with the truth most painful. I did it in a moving car where she couldn’t storm out and slam doors and leave when things got too hard, or she couldn’t drop an accusation and then run away before you could answer it. I’d trumped her attack and retreat tactic that is so overused and has allowed her to always escape accountability for her words. I answered her accusations with an honesty that tore into the very core of her selfishness. And since that time, things have never been the same. My mother is distant to me. Now, when we speak, doesn’t say anything to me directly that is accusing any more; instead she pours out her bitterness about me and this tirade I went on to my sisters, which trickles back to me eventually, over which we all have a good laugh. If she has a bone to pick, she talks about it as if she’s complaining about my other sisters, but she stays away from subjects that might make me reply with unsympathetic, rational truth. My mother has become… well… afraid of me. Afraid of the truthful replies she will get from sensitive subjects.
This is both good and bad. Good because I am less concerned about how she thinks of me finally, after all these years--and I'm a lot healthier about speaking my mind and standing up for myself. But as a result, she now allows her pride to stand between us getting anything accomplished—she is in this mode where she’d rather flounder than accept anything that I’ve done for her. But I kind of don’t care anymore, except that there are two souls under her ‘care’ <-- (and I use this word VERY loosely, the woman is no nurturer) that I need to be concerned about. Now that she’s coming to Oregon (unless she once again balks at being expected to do anything again), I realize that I have just brought this destructive force closer to home. Hopefully, my permanent bad ranger status will remain in place, and once Daddy’s in good care, and my brother in a live-in program, I can callously write my mother off to the occasional quick visit and not further inflict my life with the unnecessary stress and toxic negativity she brings. Are there good things my mother has given me? Of course. There are qualities I admire of her, and some good memories here and there; and it was her that brought horses into our lives. But in truth it took me thirty years to realize that when someone is a bad person, and they are a negative force in your life—it doesn’t matter who they are, sometimes you just have to step away, and be okay with that. And you really need to develop a sense of humour about it when you’re still forced to interact with these toxic people. She’s such a piece of work, that when my sister was discussing moving arrangements with her yesterday, she told my sister, “and make sure that Stephanie cleans the house (a rental she’s been holding here for months), makes up the beds (which I am apparently supposed to conjure out of the ether, for they do not exist) and that she has some ice-cold Diet Coke in the fridge for when we get there, if she could impose herself…” After having a good laugh about that, I made this to circulate to the sisters:
I also recorded myself singing loudly to the tune of “Major Tom” by David Bowie:
Ground control to Major Mom
Commencing countdown engines on..
Get your Diet Coke and may God’s love be with you….
This is major Mom to Ground Control… you’d better clean and make the beds..
I sent that to them too. This whole moving thing and the situation with daddy has been such a horrid strain on ALL of us… caused a lot of trickle-down negativity to flow between us when we should all be leaning on each other… that sometimes crazy humour is the only thing to remind us that we still have one another.
[The Office Special] A quickly sketched office-special today. Nothing major.. just a gel ink pen and copy paper. The baby bunnies are a travesty. It’s spring… I’m all about baby things lately.